Getting the Most from the GSA Schedule

multiple award schedule

You’ve done a good job, and a GSA Schedule is yours now. End of story. Or is it? Well, in truth the mere fact that you are now a GSA vendor means very little. The quest is not over yet. It is time to get the most from your GSA Schedule.

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10 tips to start selling more via your GSA Contract

When it comes to government sales, over 60% of GSA Schedule holders never manage to make a single sale. Whoa! Why is that? Haven’t you already put a lot of efforts into getting that Schedule in the first place? Yes, you have, but now you need to sell at least $25,000 a year or face the risk of contract termination.

Below are several tips that can help you not only meet GSA expectations, but exceed them and sell more through your Schedule.

1. Keep your Advantage catalog appealing

Think of your GSA Advantage catalog as a display window of a shop. You can hardly lure people into a shop if its display window shows either old or undistinguished goods, or nothing at all. Likewise, you should keep your GSA Advantage product catalog up to date. Maintain the price list and upload a fresh one regularly (actually, you are obliged to do this). Make quality photos of your products and upload them too. Create descriptive and easy to read texts for your product cards, to underscore benefits of your offer to potential federal customers.

This works because in the end your government clients are living human beings, too. They want to quickly solve their problems, and they definitely don’t want to be guessing what your product does, how it looks, and why they should bother trying to figure this out. So, if you provide a clean and informative description, illustrative photos, and up-to-date price list and characteristics of your products, choosing your products becomes easier for government buyers.

2. Offer a GSA Schedule as a vehicle for your existing state and local customers

If you already sell to some state and local agencies, you may want to offer these existing customers to buy from you via GSA Schedule, so long as they are eligible to purchase through it. For your eligible clients, the difference is minimal, if any. For you, the difference is cardinal, as it can help build up your sales up to the minimal threshold of $25,000.

Anyway, it is worth trying. Get in touch with such customers and send them a link to your GSA Advantage catalog.

3. Participate in General Services Administration’s outreach activities

Attend meetings, expos, industry days and training – monitor upcoming events the GSA will be holding, and make sure to participate in them. Such activity pays back in two ways. First, you will be able to communicate with GSA specialists directly, ask questions, establish contacts, promote your products, profile yourself as a competent and responsible GSA vendor. Such events as the GSA Expo are visited by thousands of federal, state and local government employees. At least some of them may become your future clients.

Second, every event is an opportunity to learn. You can learn not only what a GSA vendor should learn, but also see the procurement process from the contracting officer’s perspective. This may turn out to be extremely informative, and large portions of this information are hardly available anywhere else. In the end, this allows you to better understand the needs of procurement officers, and therefore sell better.

4. Participate in GSA MAS Contractor Team Arrangement (CTA)

Sometimes you may feel that a certain contracting opportunity is for some reason beyond your capabilities.You may not meet some required technical specifications, or necessary equipment for some part of the job, and so on. In such cases, you may still try to pursue a contract, by participating in the GSA MAS Contractor Team Arrangement program. The program allows multiple GSA vendors to come together, cooperate, and hence meet GSA expectations, as one whole unit. This way you share your responsibilities with other vendors, and of course share your reward too. But that’s still better than failing to meet GSA specifications alone and receiving nothing.

5. Be a subcontractor. Or hire one.

When you cannot win aGSA contract as you are, you can still try to participate by becoming a subcontractor to a prime contractor, who wins the contract. Subcontracting is beneficial for all parties: it lets the government get what it needs in time and with respect to GSA selection criteria. It also allows both prime contractor and subcontractor to earn, where each one alone would fail, if working separately.

6. Participate in the mentor/protégé program

Yet another way to raise sales through GSA is available even for small businesses, and for first time GSA contractors. The GSA Mentor/Protégé program allows a small business to cooperate with a more experienced one and form a Joint Venture. Often, this is an excellent possibility for a newbie vendor to start selling its products and services to federal government agencies. Also, the program is a great learning platform.

7. Negotiate raising your contract pricing

In spite of the Most Favored Customer principle, the GSA does allow increasing prices if such an increase is justified. By leveraging the Economical Price Adjustment mechanism you can raise your contract pricing up to 4%, annually. Please refer to our article on EPA for more information.

8. Research the government market to get the most from it

Similar to the commercial market, your marketing efforts promote better sales on the federal market, too. Marketing to the government involves a lot of research to find out what federal agencies need, what the most demanded products and services are, the average specifications among existing contractors in your niche, the list of your competitors, the most prospective industry segments,  etc.

You can use such tools as GSA eLibrary or FDPS to research the government market and then apply the obtained knowledge to improve your performance. Price Reporter has made a definitive Government Market Research Guide for you. Make sure to read it.

Marketing to the government would be your next step after the research. There are many options here. Some of them are covered in our GSA marketing tutorial.

8. Use a forecast tool

One of non-trivial ways to boost your GSA sales is to use the Forecast of Contracting Opportunities tool. The tool was launched in 2016. The goal of the tool is to help GSA vendors to easily find contracting opportunities based on historical data.

The Forecast of Contracting Opportunities tool displays contracts to be awarded by the General Services Administration, the Department of the Interior, the Department of Labor and the Department of Commerce, in the nearest future. Use the arrows in the top-right corner to view all pages of available contracting opportunities. Alternatively, you can use filter boxes on the left to limit the scope to certain NAICS, agencies, or budgets.

Knowing that the government is soon going to award a certain contract, you too can prepare your offer, and pursue that contract.

Another forecasting tool is Agency Recurring Procurement Forecasts. This tool summarizes procurement forecast data provided by multiple agencies. Open the tool, click the Procurement Forecast link, then select an agency to be redirected to that agency’s procurement forecast.

9. Place your bids right

Mastering the art of bidding allows you to win more contracts and therefore get the most of your GSA Schedule. Apparently, you should not respond to every RFQ you see. Start with carefully reading the entire solicitation, every single document of it. Then, prepare your offer and submit it. Surprisingly, placing the lowest bid does NOT guarantee you will win. There are many other nuances here, and you really want to consider them before bidding.

We encourage you to read our blog articles on bidding:

10. Make use of your ‘GSA Approved’ status

One simple way to get the most from your GSA Schedule is to utilize everything from the mere status of being a certified GSA partner. Download the GSA logo here, then place it literally everywhere: on your website, as a footer in your e-mails, in your printed promo materials, and official letterheads. Of course, you are obliged to comply with the GSA Logo guidelines. For instance, you cannot use it in advertising or use any wording that implies your products are superior to others, because the government chose you. However, it goes even without saying, that if the government prefers your products, they ARE somehow better than competitors’, and your company IS trustworthy. So anybody seeing the GSA logo knows your company is safe to deal with.

Conclusion

GSA’s purchasing power is huge. In 2019, the overall sales via GSA contracts exceeded $30 billion. The sum has doubled in the past ten years. That is why pursuing a GSA contract is generally a good idea. And with clever marketing, professional GSA specialists assistance, and the power of the combined output of methods we’ve described in this article, you can get the most of your GSA Schedule.

Also on pricereporter.com